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My Grandfather, Hank Williams

Sam Williams opens up to Helen M Jerome about finally following in his grandfather’s footsteps, and what Hank Williams’ legacy means
Sam Williams, grandson of Hank Williams and a part of Nashville royalty

”Honestly, the legacy for me is sometimes very pressing and it defines my whole life”

E xactly 70 years ago, Hank Williams had his first No.1 hit, Lovesick Blues, and his career in country music exploded. Today, his 22-year-old grandson, singer-songwriter Sam Williams, sits in the corner of a Shepherd’s Bush bar with a cold drink and an open smile, just a couple of hours before his support slot at the Empire next door. It’s high time he talked about what it all means, and why he avoided treading the same path for so long.

“Honestly,” says Sam Williams, “the legacy for me is sometimes very pressing and it defines my whole life. And sometimes I’m completely separate from it and I’m totally normal.” When he went to see the 2016 movie, I Saw The Light, in which Tom Hiddleston played his grandfather Hank Williams, it had a huge effect on the teenage Sam.

“It looked like I was watching a movie about myself, and about an apocalyptic situation for me that I don’t want to happen. Of course, it’s really great to see him honoured in pop culture as he should be. But it’s a very dark film, which of course it has to be because it’s a movie. There were brighter things in his life, but it was hard to watch. I saw it with my ex-girlfriend and we didn’t even speak on the way back, because it was so close to home and very awkward. But I think they did a good job of showcasing just how special he was, and the struggles that came with fame that he wasn’t ready for.”

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About Vintage Rock

In this issue of Vintage Rock we reveal our definitive Top 100 Rockabilly Tracks from classics of the genre through to lesser-known gems in the catalogue. With Halloween upon us, this issue we brush aside the cobwebs to step inside the spooky world of ghoul-rock pioneer Screamin' Jay Hawkins, and David West navigates his way through the zombie-loving ranks of Psychobilly with the help of The Sharks' frontman Alan Wilson and Dutch psychobilly giants Batmobile. 60 years on from it's release, Randy Fox investigates this month's classic album, Bo Diddley's big-selling second offering Go Bo Diddley, we hear from 21st century roots rockers The Delta Bombers who discuss their new material, and David Burke looks into the fascinating story of Hank Ballard, the rhythm and blues mastermind behind The Twist. Much more inside too, including the Jive Aces' Summertime Swing live, news – including an upcoming Netflix animation with Elvis cast as a spy, and all of the latest music reviewed! Enjoy the issue!